Page last updated at 12:13 GMT, Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Mother wins appeal against murder conviction

Tara Haigh
Tara Haigh was convicted of murder in November 2008

A woman jailed for killing her three-year-old son by smothering him with a pillow has had her murder conviction changed to manslaughter.

Tara Haigh was convicted of murder at the Old Bailey by a 10-to-two majority in November 2008 but that was changed by three Court of Appeal judges.

Haigh, 24, was found guilty of murdering her son, Billy, at their home in Guildford, Surrey, in November 2005.

She will now be resentenced at a hearing on or before 19 February.

Lord Justice Dyson, sitting with Mrs Justice Swift and Mr Justice Sweeney, ruled that her murder conviction was "unsafe".

Dating sites

Lord Justice Dyson said the prosecution had acknowledged that "there was evidence from which the jury could conclude that the appellant snapped and smothered Billy".

He added: "The difficulty for the prosecution was that there was no evidence at all on the basis of which the jury could reasonably decide whether the appellant had the intent to kill or to cause really serious harm on the one hand, or the lesser mental intent which was sufficient for manslaughter on the other hand.

"Without that evidence they could only speculate. We are driven to conclude that the murder conviction is unsafe."

The judge concluded: "It follows that this appeal must be allowed. The conviction for murder will be quashed and a verdict of manslaughter substituted."

During her trial the Old Bailey heard that Haigh was using dating websites within hours of her son's death.

The court heard that she even arranged a date with one man, posting a message on the site saying her son had died from a tumour behind the ear.

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